Brad Butterworth talks to Valencia Sailing about Alinghi and the 33rd America's Cup
Brad Butterworth, Alinghi's skipper, talked to Valencia Sailing about his team and the 33rd America's Cup. Alinghi's catamaran, Alinghi 5, is now on her way to Ras Al-Khaimah, the venue picked by the Swiss, and the entire team will follow her later on in order to carry out the last modifications and resume their training.
Valencia Sailing: Your catamaran Alinghi 5 is now being shipped to Ras Al-Khaimah after a period of sea trials in Genoa, Italy. Can you talk about the results of those trials?
Brad Butterworth: I think the boat is certainly exciting, very fast and exciting to sail with but there is still a lot of work to be done in order to optimize her to race against Oracle. We are going to do that work in Ras Al-Khaimah trying to get her to a good enough level so that we can beat them in February.
Valencia Sailing: What type of conditions did you experience in Genoa?
Brad Butterworth: We had a lot of different conditions, we had sometimes too much wind and, obviously, sometimes not enough wind but overall we sailed the boat in good breezes, we had pretty high speeds, we learned a lot about the boat but as I said we still have a lot to do.
Valencia Sailing: What do you mean by "high speeds"? What speed did you reach?
Brad Butterworth: Well, we went into the high 20's.
Valencia Sailing: Did you have any breakages? Did you suffer from any serious structural damage?
Brad Butterworth: That's wishful thinking. For sure we broke some stuff, not daily, but at the end we were amazed how little we broke. We did have several breakages when we were in Genoa and one of them was obvious because it was near one of the back frames but it wasn't serious structural damage. We fixed it overnight and repeated it on the other side because you want to fix these parts as fine as you can and then went to sail after that and had no problems at all.
Brad Butterworth during Alinghi 5's first sail on sea water. Genoa, 15 August 2009. Photo copyright Guido Trombetta / Alinghi
Valencia Sailing: Have you taken any decision on the number of crew on the boat?
Brad Butterworth: No, we haven't and it's one of those things we have really been trying to do as much testing on the boat as we can to try to find out what we can do to optimize her. We don't have a hell a lot of time and there is a hell of a lot to optimize her. The decisions we make, for example whether we want to change different parts of the boat have to be made quickly and there isn't much time. There isn't a hell of a lot of time left until we start sailing in RAK.
Valencia Sailing: What is the expected time of arrival of the boat at the venue?
Brad Butterworth: I'm not sure but I think it will at the beginning of October.
Valencia Sailing: What are Alinghi's short-term plans after that? Are you personally already in RAK?
Brad Butterworth: I'm still in Geneva but I will go there the next week or so. We will first have to do some work on the boat when she arrives and then go sailing as soon as we can.
Valencia Sailing: That means that the infrastructure there must be ready. At what stage are the construction works?
Brad Butterworth: We are working very hard, the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah is also working very hard to get things done. We have some of the buildings already erected and, obviously, the footprint for where we will take the boat each day has been done. This has been done for both teams. The work on the island is pushing ahead quite quickly and you know these guys are spending good money to host both teams.
Valencia Sailing: What about BMW Oracle? It has been reported they sent a delegation to the venue in order to study it. Have you received any feedback on their impressions?
Brad Butterworth: No, we haven't received any feedback and they still have their people down there. They will also have the same problems we have to struggle to get organized. I don't know when they are going to arrive there or what plans they have but we are pushing on.
Valencia Sailing: I suppose that from what you understand, they do have the intention to go there.
Brad Butterworth: Well, I think that's a question you should be asking them. We haven't heard anything back from them. Nobody said to us they are not coming, so it's a good question you should ask them. The venue is known for two months now and there hasn't been any challenge so far. It would be such a ridiculous situation if they challenged it now. Our boat is on ship going to the venue and they know that because they used to follow us each day. If that's how they want to win the Cup it's just going to delay us and that is not good for anybody.
Valencia Sailing: What about the longer term? Assuming the whole thing goes ahead as planned and supposing again that you win, what are Alinghi's plans for the 34th America's Cup?
Brad Butterworth: At the moment we don't have any plan. You know, last time we had organized a plan and after all their moaning and grinning we had a pretty good relationship with 19 teams ended. This time I don't know what's going to happen at the end of it. It's totally up in the air and right now we don't have any plan.
Valencia Sailing: While the legal struggle goes on in the America's Cup, Louis Vuitton announced the creation of the Louis Vuitton World Series. You raced last February in Auckland but you are absent this time. Why?
Brad Butterworth: Because we have work to do on our own, to get the boat sorted out. As you said we did the regatta in Auckland in order to get rid of the lawsuit with Team New Zealand. The regatta is sailed in old boats and, personally, I want to move on and I'd rather sail in newer and more exciting boats. This is more of a regatta for Louis Vuitton rather than anybody else, I think.
One of Alinghi 5's last sea trials before going to Ras Al-Khaimah. Genoa, 11 August 2009. Photo copyright Bruno Coccozza / Alinghi
Valencia Sailing: Turning back to the current issues in the 33rd America's Cup, one point of dispute is the measurement of BMW Oracle's challenging yacht. SNG has just submitted opposition papers on this subject. Do you think the BOR boat measures?
Brad Butterworth: No, I don't think it measures. It doesn't look like it measures to me, even under the certificate that they gave us, they don't seem to be sure very sure about that themselves and also they are not interested in getting the boat measured. In the end, the boat is not even 90 by 90 and that's what we are after. They had plenty of time to go over the rules of the measurement, they know what they've got to do. They can obviously change it any way they feel like it, show up and race the race and this is what I look forward to.
Valencia Sailing: Why do you include the rudders in the measurement of the Load Waterline Length (LWL)?
Brad Butterworth: Because it's part of the vessel.
Valencia Sailing: Are the rudders always included in the measurement of multihulls?
Brad Butterworth: Well, this is the America's Cup and it's part of the vessel. The New York court says that it is. Every time that we do something we are taken back to court but it's the New York court, it's in the US. The court says it's part of the vessel and I think they have changed it since then. So, I don't see any problem there.
Valencia Sailing: The NY court has also upheld your right to freely set the rules. I won't argue whether this is fair or not but my question concerns your agreement with ISAF over the Rules of Sailing. Why did it have to be secret to begin with?
Brad Butterworth: It's just a commercial agreement between a yacht club and ISAF. It's just an agreement to use their rules, it's a service agreement for them to provide their people and help us run the regatta in a fair way for everyone. That was done also in the past and you have never seen any of the agreements of other regattas being made public. It's just a nonsense.
Valencia Sailing: Why did you then decide to make it public at a later stage?
Brad Butterworth: It's not such a big deal. Obviously the Americans got their knickers in a twist over and so it was made public. You can now see it, everybody can now see what it is. It's actually a lot better in terms of the agreements that have been done in the past with ISAF. It's a hell lot better agreement for ISAF and sailing that has been made in the past. It's just a lot of bullshit being put around about it that doesn't amount to much.
Valencia Sailing: The document you made public was the original version signed with ISAF or was it amended and/or modified?
Brad Butterworth: It's the original version and there was also a letter accompanying it to give BMW Oracle a sense of comfort over the way the regatta was going to be run. Let me make it clear again, the agreement was never amended.
Valencia Sailing: Is there anything you might want to add?
Brad Butterworth: You know, in the end, these 2 boats will have to come together and race and regardless of who wins or loses, that should be the end of it and the Cup should move on. It would seem ridiculous to me that the loser of the race went to court afterwards. No matter who wins, the court case should end there. These 2 boats have to come together and they need to race in Ras Al-Khaimah in February.